Inequity of funding for elderly 'national disgrace'

March 30, 2000

Funding of long term care for older people needs to be publicly debated

The inequity of resources across the UK for funding the needs of the elderly is a "national disgrace," conclude the presidents of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and London and the president of the British Geriatrics Society. In a letter in this week's BMJ, they write that a year on from the report of the The Royal Commission on Long Term Care, one of the principal recommendations - a partnership between public and private funding, with state help for the poorest - has not been acted on.

Funding causes the most hardship and anxiety for older people, they write, and is the main source of inequity in the system. They cite a court case which judged that free NHS care could only be provided when health was the predominant need, with nursing care provided by social services. This is typical of the national situation, they say. They also cite a British Geriatric Society survey conducted in January this year which showed that most of its members would not be able to offer nursing care on the NHS even for a person who was partially paralysed, doubly incontinent, and found it difficult to eat or speak. The authors call for the long term care of older people to be included in the public debate on healthcare funding, and for the government to act swiftly on the Commission's recommendations.

Dr John Petrie, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

Dr Brian Williams, President of the British Geriatrics Society, London


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